Two snooker legends lit up the Betfred.com World Championship yesterday.

Ronnie O'Sullivan turned on the style to take a 7-2 lead over Dominic Dale while Stephen Hendry scraped over the line 10-9 against Joe Perry after a very edgy decider.

All eyes were on O'Sullivan after a fractious season and a build-up which included a threat to withdraw from the tournament.

The good news for his many fans was that he arrived in Sheffield last Thursday determined to dig in and work hard prior to the event. He prepared well and at times played superbly.

Several times in his career O'Sullivan has bounced back from controversy and won a title.

For instance, following his infamous walk-out against Hendry at the 2006 UK Championship he immediately won the Masters.

After his lewd behaviour at a China Open press conference three years ago he landed a third world title.

Maybe he feels he has a point to prove. O'Sullivan certainly gave his supporters hope...but he needs to keep it going against Shaun Murphy and possibly John Higgins in what remains a very difficult draw.

O'Sullivan has often said he is pondering retirement and, of course, nothing has ever come of it but Hendry is genuinely considering hanging up his cue.

He may need to win one more match to stay in the top 16 but has already decided not to enter the PTCs next season and this is likely to cost him his spot among the elite at some point in the near future.

I know Stephen loves winning above mere playing but it would be a great shame to lose him from the circuit at the age of just 42.

Hats off to Barry Hawkins for withstanding a fine comeback from Stephen Maguire, who recovered from 6-2 down before Hawkins won 10-9.

This isn't necessarily a huge shock but it was Hawkins's first win at the Crucible in six visits to Sheffield and I'm sure a source of huge satisfaction for him.

Up today are Marco Fu against Martin Gould, re-running a first round match from last year which Gould won 10-9.

Mark Allen, who is thankfully receiving the treatment he needs for depression, faces a rejuvenated Matthew Stevens in one of the first round's most intriguing matches.

Graeme Dott, a Crucible form horse having appeared in three finals there, starts out against Mark King.

But all eyes will be on O'Sullivan again, not just for how he plays but for what he says after what should now be a routine victory.


jamie brannon said...

A brilliantly honest verdict by Hendry to Hazel Irvine.

Personally, think Hendry should be given the standing ovation Davis got last year as this could well be his last showing.

Richie Segal said...

Though that O'sullivan gave a great interview to Rob Walker after the match, a good start but as stated a much different test from Saturday against Murphy.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why Hendry won't give the PTCs a try, he seems to be too stuck in his ways.

Anonymous said...

Another sublime performance from o sullivan today and the bookies immediately making him favourite.What a match coming up rosvmurphy , who do you think will win this one Dave ,got a feeling about o sullivan this year.He surely is in the toughest draw i think his ever been in.

Anonymous said...

Also Dave will you be doing the rosvmurphy match on eurosport.I find it very good this year

Dave H said...

Not sure yet, I hope to be doing some of it though

Anonymous said...

But if the PTCs were to get spectators and cameras, would he change his mind? In most cases I wouldn't care that much but for Hendry to deliberately commit rankings suicide is very depressing indeed.

If only he had said 'only enter half' or 'only compete in a handful' that would have easier to understand. I worry that we won't see him anymore. Maybe Barry Hearn can convince the legend to eat the bitter PTC pills along with the sweet major ranking tournaments.

He looked pretty determined at the press conference not to enter but there is always hope against hope.

Anonymous said...

The PTCs are an absolute insult to players like Hendry. The winners prize abroad is 10,000 euros. You need to reach the last 4 to break even. They're OK for your middle ranked players and tour newcomers as they carry a totally disproportinate number of ranking points to their actual importance. They were supposed to make the lower ranked players more able to compete against the big boys.

Dale 2-10 Ronnie
Campbell 1-10 Murphy
Burnett 2-10 Ding
Harold 3-10 Carter

I don't think the best of 7 knock abouts are achieving that to be honest.


Hi David. Great performance by O'Ullivan to close out the match, a century,a 96, and a century. Great attitude also shown. Mouth-Watering clash between Murphy and O'Sullivan, in prospect. I can not wait for that one.

A word for Hendry- Does his great and Thrilling win over Perry, yesterday, Sucure a top 16 place for Him for next season? or will He have to win another match or two, to acheive this? Not playing in the PTC, and EPTC events has not helped his ranking possition, but, Yesterday,s win for him over Perry, I'm sure, will. Top 16? I hope so. I hated him hinting at POSSIBLE, early retirment, today, in a chat between Himself and Hazel Irvine, Although, I can fully understand and respect, Hendry's reasons for this. He is a Legend, As is O'Sullivan, of course.

Betty Logan said...

You get £1000 for reaching the last 16—would a B&B for a couple of nights and a tank full of petrol really cost £1000? I think 809 needs to curb his excessive living and book into a Travelodge, but makes a valid point that the ranking point allocation is disproportionate.

I also don't think the argument about the PTCs raising standards is without basis, but the fallacy that it will "close the gap" certainly is; if the lower ranked players improve then why not the guys at the top?

Anonymous said...

Haha, fair enough Betty - "I think 809 needs to curb his excessive living and book into a Travelodge".

I am 809 and I take your point, but I was assuming that most of the players would fly, and book into a reasonably comfortable hotel.

I don't know how the players at the top can improve by playing the PTCs though. They are generally going to play players well below them in the rankings, there are smallish crowds - and none in Britain, and for a lot of the top boys (Murphy and Selby apart) there is no real motivation.

jamie brannon said...

To be honest Nadal, Federer and Djokovic would not attend low-grade events comparable to the PTC events, so partly understand Hendry's thinking.

However, he is no longer a top 3 player and legends like and John Higgins are pretty keen to attend, so part of me thinks he needs to just get down there.

If he doesn't then it's ranking suicide. I'm still not sure about the tariff for these events, they do possibly distort the list a touch. I quite like John Parrott's idea of taking a players fourteen best results.

It would enables players to pick and choose more.

Betty Logan said...

I'm not a fan of cherry picking results, if you play in an event then you should get to keep the points for it. It's just a case of getting the distribution right; Nadal and Federer don't have to play in low profile events because the point allocation has negligible effect at the top of the rankings. Currently, the regular PTC events (not including the PTC finals which is probably undervalued in terms of points) account for 30% of the points available but only 15% of the prize money. If the points on offer were halved then that would mean you'd need to win half a dozen events to get roughly the same points and prize money as for winning the China Open, which would make the whole system a lot fairer. The irony of the current system is despite Hendry's horrendous form, if not for the PTC he'd actually be ranked 10th and pushing for a top 8 place, instead of clinging on to a top 16 place. If the PTC awarded half the points it does now, Hendry would still be 10th and his place would be safe. If he hadn't competed at all on the PTC, he would have been ranked 11th if the PTC were on half points.

It's not good if players who don't want to compete on the PTC effectively lose their positions in the top 16 when they're clearly in there based off the standard rankers, so the current levels are clearly too high. I hope more realistic point tiers are introduced next season, about 1000 points for winning a PTC is about right.

Meanwhile, with Walden out that pretty much guarantees Hendry his top 16 place, unless there are some extremely irregular results.

jamie brannon said...

Betty you have made me abandon my view and your idea of reducing the tariff and, in turn, making the impact negligible at the top end is right.

Of course in tennis the players have to defend the points they earned in the tournament the year before. Another possible consideration for the system.

I do prefer this system as it's fairer in terms of avoiding the cartel we had before, but some tweaks are still needed, I feel.

jamie brannon said...

Rankings should reflect quality over a six-12 month period, which in the majority seems the case.

However, it seems silly to me that John Higgins is provisionally ranked four when he has been the best player by miles in recent months.